Crying is a baby's main form of communication. Reasons your baby may cry include:
In the early days/weeks of life, hunger is the most common reason babies cry. New babies need to feed at least 8 to 12 times per 24 hour period (every 2-3 hours)when breastfeeding, or 6 to 10 times per 24 hour period (every 2.5-4 hours) when bottle feeding.
Need to Suck
Babies love to suck and explore their mouth with their hands, so give your baby something to suck on, such as his/her thumb or fist or your finger (wash your hands before doing this). Studies show that using a pacifier in the first week of life makes it hard to get a baby to start breastfeeding.
Babies are uncomfortable in wet diapers, so change your baby’s diapers often.
NOTE: It may be hard to tell when disposable diapers are wet. They will feel heavy and warm when wet.
Newborns need to be burped often.
- Give your baby a back rub or move your baby's knees back and forth to his/her chest to help relieve gas pains
- Apply a warm compress to your baby's lower abdomen. (Use a warm, wet wash cloth in a plastic bag with a layer of cloth between your baby's skin and the bag).
It is common for babies to become tired from being over-stimulated. Crying may be a way of releasing tension, so your baby may need to cry for a short period of time. Try removing your baby from the stimulation. Sometimes just going to a quiet place can help.
Your baby’s crying may be a symptom of some type of illness. If you are worried that your baby is crying too much, contact your baby’s healthcare provider.
Comforting a Crying Newborn
As mentioned above, crying is the main way that your baby can tell you about his/her needs. As you get to know each other better, you will be able to understand why your baby is crying.
It is impossible to “spoil” a newborn. Pick up and cuddle your baby. The most important thing you can give your baby is lots of love.
Suggestions for comforting your crying baby:
- Change your baby's diaper if necessary.
- Rock your baby.
- Take your baby for a stroller-ride.
- Go for a ride in the car.
- Give your baby a warm bath.
- Swaddle your baby in a blanket.
- Put your baby in a baby sling around your chest and go for a walk, or step outside for fresh air.
- Hold your baby with his/her head against your chest, so your baby can hear your heartbeat.
- Talk or sing softly to your baby, or play tapes of lullabies or womb sounds. Some babies also respond to "white noise” (e. g., hair dryer, washing machine or a vacuum cleaner).
- Massage your baby.
- Check diaper pins. You can use diaper clips or diaper wraps instead of pins.
- Check for diaper rash.
- Change uncomfortable clothing.
- Remove some layers of clothes if maybe your baby is overdressed.
- Check to see if your baby needs to burp.
When your baby is one to two months old, he/she may just want to play. Here are some suggestions:
- Hold your baby up in front of your face or show him/her pictures of people's faces.
- Hang mobiles that your baby can easily see. (Remember, babies see mobiles from below when lying in their cribs.)
- Put your baby on a blanket on the floor and move the blanket around from room to room with you. Make sure the surrounding area is safe.
- Play some music; babies tend to like classical music.
- Sit your baby in an infant seat where he/she can see things of interest (e.g., you as you work around the house). Always place an infant seat on the floor for safety.
- Take your baby for walks. Use a stroller or a baby sling/snugly.
- Offer the breast or bottle. Warm fluids often comfort babies.
- Check for long hair that may have wrapped around your baby's fingers, toes or penis.
It can be very hard to keep trying to comfort a crying and fussy baby who is not responding to your attempts to help. It is normal to feel frustrated or even angry when a baby won’t stop crying. During such times, it is important to get someone to help you comfort your baby. It may not always be possible to get someone else’s support right at that time. If this happens, you may want to leave your baby in his/her crib for a brief period of time while you got to another room to get some distance until you feel you can handle the crying again.
NEVER shake a baby or child or throw him/her in the air. The rapid movement of the head or spinal column during shaking could cause a whiplash injury. The younger the child, the more serious the danger.
We all experience the momentary anger and frustration brought on by stress. Prevent injury, be safe, not sorry…never shake a baby or child.